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Denton, Texas News

DNA Breakthrough: Arrest Made in Denton Decades-Old Cold Cases of Aggravated Sexual Assault on Children

Booking photo of Marcus Deshaun Johnson

One male suspect has been arrested and indicted for two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, and three counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault after Denton PD detectives were able to prove DNA evidence linked him to cold cases from 1993 and 1997.

On Oct. 21, 1993, a now-retired Denton PD detective responded to a park in the 2000 block of W. Windsor Drive. It was reported that a 15-year-old female child was sexually assaulted by an unknown suspect while she was waiting in the park for other members of her cross-country team.

On Sept. 17, 1997, this same detective responded to the same park after a woman reported she was sexually assaulted by an unknown offender while she was on a walk. 

Following a thorough investigation and interviews with the two sexual assault survivors, evidence led the detective to believe both cases were related. Despite this important development, all suspect leads at the time were exhausted and did not turn up the suspect responsible. 

In 1998, Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab reports indicated the DNA collected in both cases could have come from the same source. The profile was obtained and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and was continuously searched since its entry in 1999. There were no hits. 

In 2023, a statewide DNA search was conducted. During that search, it was determined there was a reasonable probability the unknown serial sexual assault suspect was related to a specific known offender in the criminal justice system. Based on these results, a person of interest was identified in the 1993 and 1997 cold cases. 

Denton PD detectives discovered this person of interest, 53-year-old Marcus Deshaun Johnson, had been arrested for unrelated warrants in Denton in 1993. Officers further determined that the suspect description both survivors provided during their initial interviews was similar to Johnson’s appearance.

Denton PD detectives learned that Johnson was currently living in Las Vegas, and reached out to Las Vegas Metro PD and the FBI for assistance. With the assistance of these agencies, detectives were able to obtain a DNA sample from Johnson. This DNA was taken to a lab for analysis, where it was concluded that Johnson’s DNA profile could not be excluded as a contributor to the DNA samples collected during the 1993 and 1997 investigations.

 On June 29, 2023, Johnson was indicted on two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and three counts of Sexual Assault. Since his arrest, additional samples of his DNA have been collected in accordance with signed search warrants. 

After nearly 30 years, a suspect in these two violent cold cases has been identified thanks to the hard work of our current and retired detectives, assistance from partner agencies, cooperation of both survivors, and advances in science and technology. This accomplishment was additionally made possible by our Evidence Management Unit’s use of the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) grant, which provides funds to police departments seeking to solve sexual assault cold cases. Denton PD is one of five agencies in Texas that have applied for and received the SAKI grant. 

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